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The Little Engine That Does

Starting small but thinking big, the musical-theater company Stumptown Stages has made itself a leader in equity and diversity


What do you know about Stumptown Stages? 

A regular Portland theatergoer might reasonably be assumed to know that Stumptown Stages has now been around for a decade and a half or so, that its forté is musicals, both new and old, and that it’s led by two of the more accomplished names in Portland theater, Kirk Mouser (producing artistic director) and Julianne Johnson (associate artistic director and board chair), both of whom are seasoned veterans of stages from New York City to the Rose City.

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“Won’t You Be…My Neighbor?”: In the Heights—Stumptown Stages

All Things Performing Arts | Dennis Sparks

This Tony-Award winning musical is playing in the Brunish Theatre (4thfloor), 1111 SW Broadway, through May 1st.   It was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also composed the current musical, mega-hit on Broadway, Hamilton), who also wrote the music and lyrics, and book by Quiara Alegia Hudes.  It is directed and choreographed by David Marquez, with musical direction by Mak Kastelic.  For more information, go to their site at   

For those of you who might remember, or grew up with “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” the above phrase is part of his opening theme song, as he welcomed viewers to his world (or some might prefer Eddie Murphy’s bleaker version on “Saturday Night Live.”).  But, whatever your take on neighborhoods, there are always two sides to that kind of intimacy.  You might then picture, “Sesame Street,” and its alter-ego, in the Tony-Award winning musical, Avenue Q.  Two sides of the same coin, you see?

The beat expands more as you consider the old adage, from Africa, I believe, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”  The question then becomes, what happens when that “child” dreams of and/or reaches out to the larger world and leaves that nurturing community?  Will they be swallowed up by the concrete jungles or be allowed to shine?  And what of those left behind, as they lose, through death or migration, key members of the pack?  Evolution is a natural part of Life but change is painful, too.

The Highs and Lows of In the Heights

The Portland Mercury | Kjerstin Johnson

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA'S Hamilton is clever, devastating, and revolutionary. Using a predominately non-white cast to recount the life of Alexander Hamilton with a hip-hop soundtrack, it's indefinitely sold out and nets around $500,000 weekly on Broadway.

But when Hamilton was still a twinkle in the MacArthur Genius' eye (Miranda also landed a Pulitzer on Monday), his first musical, In the Heights, was a Broadway hit in its own right. Thanks to Stumptown Stages and director/choreographer David Marquez, the musical (which follows a community in Washington Heights, the predominately Dominican neighborhood north of Harlem) is also a hit in Portland—like Hamilton, it's selling out quickly.


Trip the Light Fantastic: Smokey Joe’s Café—Stumptown Stages

All Things Performing Arts | Dennis Sparks

We all do it…wax nostalgic…take excursions down Memory Lane…wish we could go back to those days of yore, “the good ole days.”  If you could step into a time machine and take a trip back to your youth and change something from the past, would you?  Of course, keeping in mind, you would not be the person you are today. 

But, putting “what-ifs” to one side, does not music, song and dance take you back in a special way to that same era:  The days of high school, as in the musical Grease or Hairspray, or the mid-West of The Music Man, or to the SW in Oklahoma, or the streets of The Big Apple of West Side Story, et. al.

Well, in this revue, you can take that journey, tripping through the late 40’s and jazz, cascading into the rock & roll & ballads of the red-hot 50’s and then taking a u-turn into the turbulent sixties and beyond.  Almost 40 songs comprise this era in the production and what a safari it takes us on. 

Smokey Joe's Cafe @ Stumptown Stages

The Crippled Critic | Kristopher Haines

I've enjoyed Oldies since childhood, so "Smokey Joe's Cafe" was a show I couldn't wait to see. My gleeful anticipation was richly rewarded. The supremely talented cast, which includes the Grammy-nominated Julianne Johnson-Weiss, who also directs, does this revue of Leiber and Stoller hits justice.

I am happy to report that this production of "Smokey Joe's" sounds considerably less Broadwayized than the filmed version. I would guess that this is a intentional and wise choice on Johnson's part.

Fertile Ground review: Welcome to the Night Side - Smart creative team makes "The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick" an entertaining ride

Oregon Artswatch | Maria Choban

Riddle: Who’s in charge of Night Side? That shady town full of werewolves and vampires, creeps and ghouls accessible from our “normal” world only by wily private eyes like Dex Dixon, Manix Marloe and Carl Kolchak, The Night Stalker?


Answer: Why, Frank, the ventriloquist benevolent puppet dictator.


That revelation comes early in Stumptown Stages’ dizzily entertaining new musical about an aging paranormal private eye, premiering at Portland’s Brunish theater as part of Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. “Filled with puns, guns, vixens, vamps, monsters, music, and mayhem,” the debut run ends today, Sunday, January 31.

The Rise & Fall of a Fearless Dick: The Adventures of Dex Dixon, Paranormal Dick—Stumptown Stages

All Things Performing Arts | Dennis Sparks

The genre is from the 40’s detective film noir school were the antiheros were born, such as Sam Spade, Philip Marlow, Dick Tracy and Mickey Spillaine.  The play also has something in common with Mel Brooks’ type of humor, spoofing genres, and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” where a noir detective goes into Toontown to investigate a murder.  Well, in this incarnation, it’s Nightside where all the paranormal creatures live.

It seems that Dex (Steve Coker) has a failing detective agency.  His only solace is a bottle of booze; his faithful girl Friday, Billie (Danielle Valentine), who has a thing for Dex, unrequited; his scruffy mascot/side-kick, Lobo (Sean Ryan Lamb), a werewolf, who pees on his carpet when he gets excited; and Scoops (Matthew Snyder), a cub reporter for a local rag, who occasionally gets Dex on the front page, which gives him some much needed PR.

'The Adventures of Dex Dixon' is a fun, feisty noir parody (review)

The Oregonian/Oregon Live | Lee Williams

It's a wonder Stumptown Stages didn't pick the billon-plus-dollar-winning Powerball numbers recently. Clearly, clairvoyants inhabit the theater company's offices. Just look at this season's schedule: Stumptown's prescient artistic programmers worked overtime with their Ouija boards picking plays.


Eerily, Stumptown opened their version of Stephen King's "Carrie" musical on the same October night that King's "Misery" started previews on Broadway.


This coming May, "In the Heights," by Lin-Manuel Miranda, will end its run at Stumptown about the same time the Tony Awards are announced, when Miranda's current Broadway blockbuster, "Hamilton," is expected to rack up double-digit nominations.


This weekend, "The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick" premiered at the Brunish Theatre -- the same weekend Fox began its reboot of "The X-Files."

Dex Dixon Paranormal Dick @ Stumptown Stages

The Crippled Critic | Kristopher Haines

"Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick" is doubtlessly the most bizarre show currently running on a Portland stage. I am as yet undecided if it has beaten "Flash Ah-ahhhh" as the weirdest thing I've seen this Season, coincidently both productions are from the truly strange mind of Steve Coker.

"Dex" is a film noir parody musical, sprinkled with vampires, werewolves, and zombies. See? I told you it was one of a kind! As was the case with "Flash-Ahhhh" the show's unconventionality is never used as an excuse to have subpar production values. Both the singers and the several-piece band are impressive. "Dex" is the middle-show of Stumptown's Season, and for me, it holds the top spot.

Stumptown Stages to present Fertile Grounds production

Portland Tribune | The Review Tidings

Stumptown Stages presents the original musical “The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick” as part of the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works.


This fully staged premiere is directed by Kirk Mouser and features an all-star cast of characters, including hero Dex Dixon (Steve Coker), femme fatale Nelly Nailor (Sydney Weir), villain Horus (Illya Torres-Garner) and faithful “Good Friday” secretary Billie Blackthorne (Danielle Valentine). Follow Detective Dex Dixon as he sets off to save a world filled with dolled-up lounge singers, disgruntled vampires and zombies.


Dex Dixon is a paranormal investigator at the start of his career. He lives in Our Fair City, an urban jungle just across a dimensional rift from Nightside, a world populated by the movie monsters of old, from which Dex was exiled 10 years ago. When a mysterious woman arrives requiring his special skills, he finds himself returning to his old haunts — and facing an old flame. “The Adventures of Dex Dixon” is a noir musical, full of horror and comedy as well as puns, guns, vixens, vamps, monsters and mayhem.


“The original plan for ‘Dex’ was to create a 10-part web series designed to lampoon the cliffhanger serials of yesteryear,” writer Steve Coker said. “The script was written in 10-minute episodes that mashed up many popular genres and always ended with a cliffhanger. After sharing the script with peers and producers, it became clear that ‘Dex’ could be far more than a simple cheeky web series. ... It seemed only fitting that we produce ‘Dex’ as a live stage show with classic ’40s-era music.

Heart Full of Christmas: The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical—Brunish Theatre

All Things Performing Arts | Dennis Sparks

Yes, this show is about some of the most irreverent, irascible, illiterate, irritable characters that every fell off of Santa’s sleigh.  But, at its heart, it’s just about some very human folk, with their own private demons and desires, who want to spread joy in their little neck (albeit, a bit reddish) of the woods.  In fact, if you look real close, you just might see your own reflection.

The story takes place in a trailer park in Florida called Armadillo Acres and they celebrate Christmas in their own special way.  They have a brew called KegNog and make wreaths out of PBR beer cans.  Their manger scene consists of the usual first Christmas family with Frosty, the Snowman and a Storm Trooper to guard this flock by night.  They also have an assortment of pink flamingos, garden gnomes, golden plaster monkeys and paper Christmas balls for their plastic tree. 

"The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical" @ Stumptown Stages

The Crippled Critic | Kristopher Haines

"The  Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical" is the holiday show for tweeners, those people who aren't quite ready for the madcap, (and sometimes abruptly dark) "Twist Your Dickens" , and yet want something more irreverent than "A Taffeta Christmas" ."Trailer Park" is profane and raunchy, but it is rather unique in the way that it manages to be that way without losing its Christmas Spirit. Sure, "Fuck it, it's Christmas" (my favorite number) will never be heard alongside "Frosty the Snowman", but that doesn't make it any less festive.

Worn-out laughs at the trailer park

Oregon Arts Watch | Christa Morletti McIntyre

"Stumptown Stages is devoted to musical theater, and this show has tight direction, a great cast, and a good venue in the Brunish Theatre of downtown’s Antoinette Hatfield Hall. Sherrie Van Hine, as Betty, the manager of Armadillo Acres Trailer Park, is exceptional as the extroverted, cosmopolitan Southern Belle. Kelly Stewart is the highlight of the show as Pickles: her antics are outrageous, she has a great voice, and she dances well. Steve Coker, as Rufus Jeter, projects a little sympathy and love in his voice."

Onstage at The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical

KGW | Live @ 7

KGW's Live @ 7 visits the set of Stumptown Stages production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical

"Carrie: The Musical" @ Stumptown Stages

The Crippled Critic | Kristopher Haines

Most who see "Carrie: The Musical" will be looking for a Halloween treat, and they'll find it. The novel and film are widely known, but the musical is not, because its original production in 1988 is among Broadway's biggest flops. That dubious distinction is unlikely to haunt this production because the goings-on of Broadway have little appeal outside of New York City. In fact, the only reason I'm aware of its history is due to my obsession with another Broadway flop, Paul Simon's "The Capeman" Both shows have had smaller-scale shots at redemption, "The Capeman" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, (which I saw!) and Central Park, and "Carrie" at the Off-Broadway Lortel, and in Seattle, which I believe was meant to be the start of a touring show that never materialized.

When I saw that Stumptown Stages was mounting the reworked and stripped-down Lortel version, I knew I had to see it. I found it to be an intriguing and, above all, brave choice.

Diamond in the Rough: Carrie, the Musical—Stumptown Stages

All Things Performing Arts | Dennis Sparks

Carrie was a career-changing event in the lives of many people.  The novel by King was his first great success.  The movie by Brian DePalma was his first important film.  And for most of the actors in it, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, John Travota, Willam Katt, P.J. Soles and Sissy Spacek, was a first or early film of theirs.  Also it revived the career of Piper Laurie and had Broadway actress, Betty Buckley, as the gym teacher (who went on to play the mother in the musical of this story).

The musical had some of the same writing team of the original film but managed to flop as a musical on Broadway.  Rumor has it that it has been revamped and updated and will again grace the stages, as it has here.  The book was very episodic and told as a flashback of some of the survivors.  The movie discarded that approach and chose to present it in a linear fashion.  Now the musical has inserted some of the flashback aspects back in, with Sue as a type of narrator.

Talented cast takes on 'Carrie, The Musical' at Brunish Theatre (review)

The Oregonian/Oregon Live | Lee Williams

As wallflower-turned-prom-queen Carrie White takes the stage next to her prom king, you tense up.


Near her, a string, tied to a bucket of pig's blood, jiggles.


A crown is placed on Carrie's head.

You know what's coming next, but — like Cornwall clawing out Gloucester's eyes, like Drew Barrymore answering that first phone call in "Scream" — you still hold your breath.  


And then the bloodbath.


Even though Stumptown Stages' production strangely obscures the iconic bucket with a prom banner, and the blood that douses Carrie is indicated through crimson lights, the climax of "Carrie, The Musical" is surprisingly effective.

There will be blood

WLHS Now | Julia Mogen

Props being maliciously thrown across the stage, fake blood dumped over all the actors, and violent crying are just some of the things you can expect from this musical and what more could you want?


Besides the violence within the musical adaptation of the classic film and novel “Carrie,” the show unearths deep themes of bullying and it’s implications.


The famous story was written as a musical in the 1980’s, it was a broadway flop with silly songs and unnecessary comedy.


“The recent rewrites made it a much more serious, more dark version of the play,” Amber Mitchell, senior and theater veteran, said.


While the new script and songs have been generating buzz, Mitchell hopes to uphold the potential of the show with her character Sue Snell.

'Carrie' makes musical splash

Portland Tribune | Ellen Spitaleri

Stephen King’s novel “Carrie” and the 1976 movie have resonated with readers and viewers for years, and now audiences can experience those feelings anew in Stumptown Stage’s production of “Carrie the Musical,” opening Oct. 22 and playing through Nov. 8 at Portland’5 Brunish Theatre.


“Carrie the Musical’ follows the story of a young girl who has been ostracized by her peers for being different, while seeking understanding and acceptance, only to have the last remnants of hope stripped away from her,” said Kirk Mouser, the executive artistic director of Stumptown Stages and the director of the musical.

‘Mary Poppins’ chimney-sweeps PAMTAs

Oregon Arts Watch | Bob Hicks

A funny thing happened on the way to the grand wrap-up of the PAMTAs: a helluva show broke out. The Portland Area Musical Theater Awards ceremony pretty much packed the Dolores Winningstad Theatre to the rafters Monday night, and at times the cheering approached Timbers Army volume. Amid a whole lot of big, grown-up possibilities – Dreamgirls, Parade, She Loves Me, Young Frankenstein, La Cage aux Folles, Carousel, the debut of the new rhythm & blues musical Soul Harmony, and others – that supercalifragilistic bumbershoot-carrying wondernanny Mary Poppins, from Northwest Children’s Theatre, hauled off the biggest chunks of hardware, including the award for best production.

Soul Harmony | Portland theater group tackles birth of R&B

The Portland Observer | Olivia Olivia | 4/13/2015, 4:33 p.m.

Stumptown Stages, a Portland theater production company with an acumen for embracing diversity, gears up this week for the world premiere of its all-original musical, Soul Harmony, based on the real life history of the birth of R&B, American soul music, and specifically the unlikely partnership between a young Jewish woman, Deborah Chessler, and the dynamic black male vocal group, Sonny Til and the Orioles. In fact, the main character, Sonny Til, is played by his own grandson, De’Sean Dooley.

Watch the Birth of Rock-N-Roll on a Portland Stage Near You

Portland Monthly Magazine | Published Apr 13, 2015, 4:00pm | By Fiona McCann

A new Portland-penned musical centers on the woman credited with inventing rock 'n' roll. Ahead of the production, rock critic and music writer Greil Marcus is in town to talk about why we should pay attention to Deborah Chessler.


Rock critic, writer and columnist Greil Marcus—author of books on Dylan, Van Morrison and The Doors among others, and Rolling Stone magazine’s first ever reviews editor—is bringing his rock chops to Portland. He’ll be taking the mic at the Brunish Theatre on Thursday at noon ahead of the opening night—and world premiere—of a new, made-in-Portland musical called Soul Harmony.

Stumptown Stages Presents World Premiere Musical Soul Harmony @ Brunish Theater | Inspired by The Deborah Chessler Story

PDX Pipeline

The creators of Stumptown Stages’ It’s A Wonderful Life, bring this unforgettable musical to stage! In the late 40s an unlikely partnership between a young Jewish woman and a dynamic black male vocal group gave birth to a new genre of music that would ignite a generation, R&B! Soul Harmony reveals their rise to music nobility and the role they and their music played in challenging segregation in the south.

Life’s a B!#*h, and it Starts in Third Grade

Artslandia | By Grace Ettinger

I love reality television. The way I see it, the bigger the false eyelashes, the better. If I am watching something that is “real life,” and no one throws a glass of red wine on someone else, I am offended. When the tables are turned, as they are in Stumptown Stage’s Ruthless!, it becomes a whole new level of campy fun. Lucky for me, this show is like a combination of Toddlers and Tiaras and RuPaul’s Drag Race.


Tina Denmark, played by the gifted ten-year old Alexa Shaheen, is a talented third-grader who was born to entertain. Shaheen may be only 10, but she was convincing as a sweet little girl one second and a psychotic, creepy killer the next. Plus the girl can really sing. Tina’s agent Sylvia, who was played with an obscure accent that I couldn’t dissect by Darius Pierce, pushes Tina towards Pippi in Tahiti, the school musical. Casting gets hairy, and when Tina is cast as a lineless dog, she takes matters into her own hands and kills the actress who gets cast as Pippi. Take that, Real Housewives. Your crazy beverage-throwing antics just got upstaged by a third-grader!

'Ruthless! The Musical' satirizes child stars -- and has a connection to Britney Spears and Natalie Portman

The Oregonian/OregonLive | By Lee Williams | Special to The Oregonian/OregonLive on February 18, 2015

Even avid theatergoers likely haven't come across the phrase "a role once performed by Britney Spears" too often in a director's notes. (And that's probably a good thing. Hedda Gabler shouldn't be played in a bikini with a snake wrapped around her shoulders.)


When "Ruthless! The Musical" opened off-Broadway in 1992, Ms. Hit-Me-Baby One-More-Time played the fame-obsessed, lethally ambitious third-grader Tina Denmark -- and another up-and-comer, Natalie Portman, was an understudy.


In Stumptown Stages' production of "Ruthless!" which opens Thursday, Feb. 19 at Portland'5 Brunish Theatre, Alexa Shaheen of Lake Oswego plays the pint-sized prima donna who stops at nothing to score the starring role in her school's musical. Tina is a juicy role to be sure: Think Honey Boo Boo meets "All About Eve" with a near-"Game of Thrones" ferocity - and body count.

'Ruthless! The Musical' opens at Stumptown

The Portland Tribune | Created on Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00 | Written by The Review, Tidings

Stumptown Stages continues its 10th anniversary season with the award-winning musical “Ruthless!”

The show is about eight-year-old Tina Denmark, who knows she was born to play Pippi Longstocking, and she will do anything to win the part in her school musical. Anything includes murdering the leading lady. This aggressively outrageous musical hit garnered rave reviews during its long Off-Broadway run, which opened with Britney Spears in the leading role.


“Why are some people so insanely driven to be on stage?” said director Paul Angelo. “Is it really that hard to imagine a maddening need to be famous in today’s world? Well, taken to its extreme, how far would it go? How far has it gone? How often have you said flippantly off the cuff ‘Oh, I’d kill for a ____.’ What if a child like Tina were listening? What if any child were listening? Ultimately we the people can look silly at times in our self-absorption. A show like ‘Ruthless!’ reminds us to not take everything so seriously and to lighten up, to laugh at what we don’t understand and to avoid people in the theatre ...”

OC resident plays 'dream role' in 'Charlie Brown'

The Portland Tribune | Created on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 00:00 | Written by Ellen Spitaleri

Charlie Brown’s life may be “a study in disappointment,” as characterized by his creator, Charles Schulz, but the story has leaped from the funny pages to the live stage at Portland’5 Brunish Theatre, and the result is a “perfect holiday show,” said director/choreographer Kirk Mouser.


“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” running now through Dec. 7, “was chosen for its universal themes,” said Mouser, a Clackamas County resident who is Stumptown Stages’ executive artistic director and founder.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Artslandia | By Matt Smith

During a school assembly when I was in first or second grade, my school principal showed us a bobbly head doll of Snoopy in his Joe Cool sunglasses. The entire student body immediately went bananas, with rows of kids spontaneously jumping up from their seats to try to get a better look. I don’t recall what our principal’s point was, but I do remember vividly the ability of Charles Schulz’s iconic beagle to delight us.


Max Artsis as Snoopy in Stumptown Stages’ production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown doesn’t quite get the same reaction during the canine’s exuberant ode to food, “Summertime,” but you can definitely feel the audience’s excitement build in the intimate Brunish Theatre at Portland’5 Center for the Performing Arts when he dons the shades.

Based on "The Rainmaker," a play from the early 1950s by N. Richard Nash, "110 in the Shade" is a 1963 musical that sprawls across a small town in the American Southwest during the Great Depression. It's about dealing with drought, something Oregonians until recently have faced, but more than that, it's about one woman's transformation.

Lizzie Curry is a spinster who craves a husband and family but thinks she's undesirable. When a self-proclaimed rainmaker comes along, he helps her make that transformation. There are shades of "the Music Man" here, wherein a dishonest character with charisma comes to town, charms the townfolk and gets the girl. With music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, the show had to follow the success of "The Fantasticks" by this talented duo.

Stumptown Stages delivers a sweet, solid production of the musical in downtown Portland's Brunish Theater, though its pace needed a kick on a recent afternoon. Director Roger Welch honors the original Agnes de Mille choreography, and the fine offstage orchestra, under the baton of Yvette Starkey, enhances the entire show. Only 13 actors appear in "110," which provides a certain intimacy, yet the choreographed numbers abundant with symmetry fill up the generous floor space.

2013-2014 Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards Nominees Announced

June 1, 2014

Nominees for the 2013-2014 PATMA's have been announced. Stumptown Stages is honored to be among the finalists, which include:

  • Joann Coleman (Aida) for Actress

  • James Drake (Aida) for Actor

  • Michael Mitchell (It's A Wonderful Life) for Supporting Actor

  • The Ain't Misbehavin' cast (Ain't Misbehavin') for Ensemble

  • Brian Moen (Ain't Misbehavin') for Sound Design

  • Robert Fishel (Ain't Misbehavin') for Musical Direction

  • Roger Welch (Ain't Misbehavin') for Director


Congrats to all the nominees!

May 28, 2014

Finalists for The 36th Annual Drammy Awards have been announced and Stumptown Stages is thrilled to have three nominations for the Fall production of 9 to 5: The Musical. Nominations include:

  • Pit Ensemble

  • Matthew Belles for Supporting Actor in a Musical

  • Lisamarie Harrison for Actress in a Musical


Congrats to the Finalists!

The Portland Tribune | Created on Thursday, 08 May 2014 07:00 | Written by Ellen Spitaleri

Kirk Mouser is the epitome of the local-boy-makes-good story, but there is so much more to the man than that.


True, Mouser, now 47, did graduate from Centennial High School, and he did go to Los Angeles and New York City and was a success on the stage in both places.


He’s been back in Portland for 10 years, and after again finding success on stages around the metro area and even on screen in TNT’s “Leverage,” he is now the executive artistic director and founder of Stumptown Stages.


“When I left New York City, people thought I would miss Manhattan, and I was nervous about that, but what I found here is the creative energy of the city,” he says, noting that all his friends in New York now want to come to Portland to perform.


With the “wonderful talent base here” and his connections all around the United States, Mouser can call on any number of friends to come to Portland to direct or appear in the musicals he produces for Stumptown Stages.


Wondering if there was a place for him when he returned to Portland, Mouser gathered together some key leaders in the local theatrical scene and discussed the need for a musical company in downtown Portland.


In 2005 he filed for nonprofit status for Stumptown Stages, saying that the group’s mission is to present “quality musical theater opportunities for a wide and diverse audience of musical-theater lovers.”

Originally optioned by Disney from a children’s storybook—which was itself based on the Verdi opera of the same name—Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida retains all the depth of an animated feature, with the erotic undercurrent of a Danielle Steel novel. Sure, the slave girl may actually be a Nubian princess, but you can still take her roughly in your palace bedchamber. Stumptown Stages’ adaptation embraces the campiness, yet it's more humorous than was likely intended.In the titular role, Joann Coleman nearly channels Oprah Winfrey, with all the fierce enthusiasm of an enslaved princess giving away free cars. Her captor and lover, an Egyptian soldier named Radames (James Langston Drake), isn’t exactly bored, but he doesn’t seem passionate enough to commit treason, and there’s an overall lack of chemistry between the star-crossed lovers.Some of the best performances—and voices—are found in the supporting roles, including Joy Martin as Princess Amneris, a shallow blonde who (surprise!) ultimately learns about her own self worth, and Antonio Tillman as the effeminate houseboy Mereb. John’s original score is well-performed by a small orchestra, and there are a couple of standout songs like the tragic ballad “Written in the Stars” and the goosebump-inducing ensemble number “The Gods Love Nubia.” Even though we know how it’s all going to end, it still makes for an enjoyable Disneyland ride.

A Timeless Love

I have a timeless love. It is a love for theatre. This love is so strong that even when I’m in a strange city looking at potential hotels for a conference, I make time to go to the theatre. This weekend, I’m in Portland Oregon. So guess what I did last night. Yup. I went to the theatre. Specifically, we went to the Portland’5 Center For The Arts (FB), Brunish Theatre, to see Stumptown Stages‘ (FB) production of “Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida“. Short summary: This is a production well worth seeing if you are in the area.

Willamette Week | November, 2013

As lights go down and a Dolly Parton image suddenly appears projected above the minimal scenery, there's an unwelcome whiff of Branson, Mo., that would strangle most musicals before the first chorus. But however inane the preamble or insulting the implication, one likes to give Dolly the benefit of the doubt. This theatrical adaptation of the movie 9 to 5 certainly relishes the easy humor of obsolete technology. But while the inefficiency of electric typewriters isn't explicitly linked to the garrulous misbehavior of unabashed sexists, the air of impending extinction enlivens a feminism-for-beginners romp packed with memorable tunes and winning performances. As the long-suffering office manager, Lisamarie Harrison wields a devastating comic timing that threatens to bring down the house with every underplayed aside, but her deadpan venom isn't of the same theatrical universe as the telegraphed shrillness Amy Jo Halliday thrusts upon newly hired Judy's plucky ineptitude. Though Harrison proves herself a capable singer, her limitations of register are inevitably magnified when set directly against Halliday's show-stopping vocals. Stephanie Heuston, in Parton's role as Doralee, handles the heaviest lifting of a misunderstood "Backwoods Barbie" with full voice and electric presence. Even though the actresses never fade seamlessly into their roles in this Stumptown Stages' presentation, that may be just the point.

The Oregonian/OregonLive | October 21, 2013

 When she was a teenager in 1980, Lisamarie Harrison went to see the popular movie "9 to 5" starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. The screwball comedy about a serious subject -- women trying to survive in a male-dominated office -- impressed her, particularly Tomlin's take-charge character, Violet. "I just thought she was so together and smart. I remember thinking, 'I want to be like that when I grow up,' " Harrison said.


Flash forward 33 years, and the musical comedy actor finds herself cast as Violet in Stumptown Stages' upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical," a 2008 Tony Award nominee with music and lyrics by Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

Willamette Week | October 23, 2013

You may have misremembered Nine to Five, the classic 1980 Dolly Parton workplace comedy, as a musical, considering the eponymous theme song is more famous than the film. Alas, it only received the song-and-dance treatment five years ago. Similarly, you’d assume there would be dozens of stage musicals based on Parton songs by now, but somehow, 9 to 5: The Musical—which hits Portland this week—is the first and only one currently in production. This is absurd, because, as you’ll see below, so many of Parton’s songs translate easily to the stage.

Stumptown Stages Receives Support from the Kinsman Foundation & The Charlotte Martin Foundation

August 9, 2013

Stumptown Stages, the resident musical theatre company at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, is pleased to announce $10,000 in support from The Kinsman Foundation and $5,0000 in support from The Charlotte Martin Foundation to help implement its Musical Theatre Initiative and Educational & Outreach Programs.


The Kinsman Foundation is a private foundation built on the philanthropy of John and Elizabeth T. Kinsman of Milwaukie, Oregon. The Foundation makes grants supporting literary, theater and photographic arts.


The Charlotte Martin Foundation is dedicated to providing grants and funding in the areas of youth athletics, culture, and education and also to preserving and protecting wildlife and habitat.



June 25, 2013

Stumptown Stages is thrilled to take home nine PAMTA Awards at the 2013 PAMTA Awards held Monday, June 24 at the Dolores Winningstad Theatre.

To get the full list of 2013 PAMTA Awards winners.

PAMTA Announces 2013 Nominees; Ceremony Set for 6/24

June 1, 2013

The Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards have announced this year's nominations! See the full list below.

This year's PAMTA ceremony will take place at the Dolores Winningstad Theatre on Monday, June 24, 2013, at 7 pm.

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